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Table of Contents

  1. Topic pack - Microeconomics - introduction
  2. 1.1 Competitive Markets: Demand and Supply
  3. 1.1 Competitive Markets: Demand and Supply - notes
  4. 1.1 Competitive markets - questions
  5. 1.1 Competitive markets - simulations and activities
  6. 1.2 Elasticities
  7. 1.2 Elasticities - notes
  8. Section 1.2 Elasticities - questions
  9. Section 1.2 Elasticities - simulations and activities
  10. 1.3 Government intervention
  11. 1.3 Government Intervention - notes
  12. 1.3 Government intervention - questions
  13. 1.3 Government intervention - simulations and activities
  14. 1.4 Market failure
  15. 1.4 Market failure - notes
    1. The meaning of externalities
    2. Types of externalities
    3. How do externalities affect allocative efficiency?
    4. Negative externalities of production
    5. Negative externalities of consumption
    6. The economic theory of traffic congestion
    7. Demerit goods
    8. Government responses - demerit goods
    9. Possible government responses to externalities
    10. Direct government provision
    11. Extension of property rights
    12. Taxes and subsidies
    13. Tradeable pollution rights
    14. Regulation, legislation and direct controls
    15. Positive externalities of production
    16. Positive externalities of consumption
    17. Merit goods
    18. Why might merit goods be underprovided by the market?
    19. Government responses - merit goods
    20. Public goods
    21. Common access resources & sustainability
    22. The tragedy of the Commons
    23. Common access resources in practice
    24. Sustainability
    25. Threats to Sustainability
    26. The threat to sustainability from the use of fossil fuels
    27. The threat to sustainability from poverty
    28. Government responses to threats to sustainability
    29. Cap and Trade Schemes
    30. Promoting Clean Technologies
    31. The 'dirty side' of cleaner technologies
    32. International responses to threats to sustainability
    33. Asymmetric information
    34. Abuse of monopoly power
    35. Inequality
  16. Section 1.4 Market failure - questions
  17. Section 1.4 Market failure - simulations and activities
  18. 1.5 Theory of the firm
  19. 1.5 Theory of the firm - notes (HL only)
  20. Section 1.5 Theory of the firm - questions
  21. Section 1.5 Theory of the firm - simulations and activities
  22. Print View

The threat to sustainability from poverty

Syllabus: Discuss the view that the existence of poverty in economically less developed countries creates negative externalities through overexploitation of land for agriculture, and that this poses a threat to sustainability.

Population increases are both a consequence, and cause, of increasing poverty and low standards of living around the world, especially in Asia and Africa. As populations increase the demand on common access resources intensifies resulting in extensive negative externalities which threatens sustainability.

With the world's population surpassing 7 billion people in 2011, the global impact is huge.

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Read the following article and reflect on the implications for sustainable development resulting from population growth.

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The World Bank periodically prepares poverty assessments of countries in which it has an active programme, in close collaboration with national institutions and other development agencies. The data it records is presented in a series of datasets on its website.

Examine the following datasets and featured indicators and identify the major links between poverty and reliance on agriculture.

For the 70% of the world's poor who live in rural areas, agriculture is the main source of income and employment. The depletion and degradation of natural resources poses serious challenges to producing enough food and other agricultural products to sustain local livelihoods, but also to meet the needs of urban populations which rely on this supply.

Where low-income rural populations rely on subsistence agriculture, the likelihood is that common access resources will become depleted, unless there is some form of community collaboration along the lines suggested by Elinor Ostrom. Sustainability of resources may be lost if poor communities are forced to sell land and resources, such as forests, to external private corporations who do not have the interests of the local community as a priority, but need to satisfy their shareholders. Logging companies, for example, will wish to maximise their utilisation of timber resources taking only their private costs into consideration, ignoring the external costs to the local population. As a consequence, there will be overexploitation of timber and deforestation creating negative externalities such soil erosion, landslides, flooding and loss of bio-diversity.

The World Bank is one of the key promoters and financiers of environmental upgrading in the developing world. The following dataset covers forests, biodiversity, emissions, and pollution.